Having already trained over 2,000 local employees to serve as ambassadors of the city by the sea, the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau is ready to expand the program to other tourist destinations.

Launched in May of 2008, the “I am Santa Monica” program is a partnership with City Hall, Santa Monica College and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. The free, interactive program consists of a one-hour guided bus tour and a two-hour class focusing on what makes Santa Monica unique while also providing answers to common questions asked by visitors.

Those who go through the program can provide history on some of Santa Monica’s landmarks while also informing guests about local laws that may impact their stay, such as the bans on smoking in public spaces.

Now the CVB wants to offer this program to other cities, calling it “I Am Your Destination.” The “turnkey” program would focus on promoting knowledge of the particular destination, as well as customer service.

The program’s introductory rate was $10,000 for tourism agencies that signed on before than end of 2011, said Kim Baker, vice president of marketing at the CVB.

Newport Beach’s tourism arm is the first client to sign on, Baker said. The first effort will be to create a new visitor service training program for the Newport Beach Police Department and the city’s lifeguards.

“It’s imperative that we provide a program for our hospitality industry that arms our employees with knowledge of their destination so that visitors keep coming back and we are able to provide jobs in our community,” said CVB President and CEO Misti Kerns.

Local employees and those who want to gain employment can sign up for the free “I am Santa Monica” program at www.santamonica.com/iam.

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